• heterogeneous;
  • porous media;
  • pore network;
  • simulation;
  • relative permeability;
  • capillary pressure


A method is suggested to compute the capillary pressure and relative permeability curves of heterogeneous porous media. The broad pore radius distribution (PRD) and throat radius distribution (TRD) are decomposed into relatively narrow component distribution functions which are used for the computer-aided construction of pore-and-throat networks. The quasi-static motion of menisci in pores and throats is tracked by accounting for capillary forces. The presence of fractal roughness along pore walls ensures the coexistence of both phases in pores. The calculation of the hydraulic conductance of each phase is based on the concept of constricted unit cell. Simulations in component pore networks constructed from narrow PRD and TRD produce a set of capillary pressure and relative permeability functions, the arithmetic averaging of which yields the corresponding functions for a heterogeneous synthetic pore network. This information is used by a dynamic simulator of drainage in permeability networks to predict experimental results of soil columns. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2011